Sederi Yearbook 21

Sederi 21
Sederi 21 — 2011
Berta Cano Echevarría & Ana Sáez-Hidalgo
Francisco J. Borge López
ISSN 1135-7789


Hannah Leah Crummé, “The Impact of Lord Burghley and the Earl of Leicester’s Spanish-Speaking Secretariats.” SEDERI 21 (2011): 7-27.


DOI:                                                      Download PDF



Whilst the literature of the Spanish Golden Age is itself filled with problems of representation, I will argue in this paper that the greatest misrepresentation of all did not occur in fiction but rather in the English court. During Elizabeth’s reign Lord Burghley, working with his secretary Sir Francis Walsingham, systematically misrepresented Spanish culture, deliberately obscuring the English perception of Spanish Golden Age and casting over it a veil of fear. The Earl of Leicester, by contrast, working only to improve his own reputation as a literary patron and man of letters, inadvertently increased English access to Spanish literature as he patronized a coterie of Spanish-speaking scholars at the University of Oxford. These Spanish secretaries translated Spanish literature and created Spanish dictionaries. By analysing the propaganda created under Burghley and the dictionaries created under Leicester, I will show how the English perception of the Spanish Golden Age developed. How, one might ask, was Antonio del Corro’s arrival at the university tied to the printing of the first Spanish books in England at the university press? Why did both Leicester and Burghley eventually sponsor Spanish-English dictionaries? How did these different media and dictionaries mediate the English perception of Spain? These are some of the questions my paper will address through examination of the Atye-Cotton manuscripts (now housed at the British Library), a series of pamphlets sponsored by Lord Burghley, and several English-Spanish dictionaries created in the late 16th century.

Keywords: Essex; Burghley; Leicester; secretaries; dictionary; Spanish.




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